Nuclear Risk
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Steve Fyffe
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Three CISAC scientists have joined 26 of the nation’s top nuclear experts to send an open letter to President Obama in support of the Iran deal struck in July.

“The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) the United States and its partners negotiated with Iran will advance the cause of peace and security in the Middle East and can serve as a guidepost for future non-proliferation agreements,” the group of renowned scientists, academics and former government officials wrote in the letter dated August 8, 2015.

“This is an innovative agreement, with much more stringent constraints than any previously negotiated non-proliferation framework.”

CISAC senior fellow and former Los Alamos National Laboratory director Sig Hecker is a signatory to the letter, along with CISAC co-founder Sid Drell, and cybersecurity expert and CISAC affiliate Martin Hellman.

Six Nobel laureates also signed, including FSI senior fellow by courtesy and former Stanford Linear Accelerator director Burton Richter.

The letter arrives at a crucial time for the Obama administration as it rallies public opinion and lobbies Congress to support the Iran agreement.

You can read the full letter along with analysis from the New York Times at this link.

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Authors
Siegfried S. Hecker
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North Korea remains a puzzle to Americans. How did this country—one of the most isolated in the world and in the policy cross hairs of every U.S. administration during the past 30 years—progress from zero nuclear weapons in 2001 to a threatening arsenal of perhaps 50 such weapons in 2021?

Hinge Points brings readers literally inside the North Korean nuclear program, joining Siegfried Hecker to see what he saw and hear what he heard in his visits to North Korea from 2004 to 2010. Hecker goes beyond the technical details—described in plain English from his on-the-ground experience at the North's nuclear center at Yongbyon—to put the nuclear program exactly where it belongs, in the context of decades of fateful foreign policy decisions in Pyongyang and Washington.

Sig Hecker and John Lewis Yongbyon 2007
Dr. Siegfried S. Hecker and CISAC co-founder, John Lewis, walking the floor of fuel fabrication facility in Yongbyon in 2007.

Describing these decisions as "hinge points," he traces the consequences of opportunities missed by both sides.The result has been that successive U.S. administrations have been unable to prevent the North, with the weakest of hands, from becoming one of only three countries in the world that might target the United States with nuclear weapons. Hecker's unique ability to marry the technical with the diplomatic is well informed by his interactions with North Korean and U.S. officials over many years, while his years of working with Russian, Chinese, Indian, and Pakistani nuclear officials have given him an unmatched breadth of experience from which to view and interpret the thinking and perspective of the North Koreans.

For more information and purchasing please visit sup.org.

Visit the book website for an in-depth look at Dr. Siegfried S. Hecker time spent in North Korea.

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Between 2004 and 2010, Dr. Siegfried Hecker made seven trips to North Korea to explore ways to reduce the danger posed by Pyongyang’s advancing nuclear weapons program.

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Co-sponsored with Stanford University Libraries

About the Event: Join us for an engaging conversation with the Ambassador of Estonia to the U.S. Kristjan Prikk, Rose Gottemoeller, and Steven Pifer, who will discuss Russia's war in Ukraine - what's at stake and what we should do about it.
Russia's unprovoked war against Ukraine has brought about the most serious reassessment of the European security realities since the end of the Cold War. The epic clash of political wills, the magnitude of military operations, and the scale of atrocities against the Ukrainian people are beyond anything Europe has seen since World War II. The past nine months have forced many to reassess what is possible and impossible in international security A.D. 2022. What is this war about, after all? What's at stake in this – to paraphrase former British PM Chamberlain – "quarrel in a faraway country, between people of whom most Americans know nothing?" What should be the lessons for U.S. strategists and policymakers? What are the wider implications for U.S. national security interests, particularly those related to the Indo-Pacific? How has the Alliance supported Ukraine since the war started? What should the end of this war look like and how to get there?

All these questions are relevant and should be carefully weighed with current information from the war as well as historic perspective and regional knowledge in mind.

About the Speakers: 

Estonia's Ambassador to the U.S. Mr. Kristjan Prikk started his mission in Washington, D.C. in May 2021. He is a graduate of the USA Army War College and has served as the National Security Coordinator to the Prime Minister. Prior to arriving in D.C., he was the Permanent Secretary of the Estonian Ministry of Defense. Among his previous assignments are two other tours in Washington as an Estonian diplomat and work on NATO-Russia and NATO-Ukraine topics at a time when these relationships were considerably less charged than today.

Rose Gottemoeller is the Steven C. Házy Lecturer at Stanford University's Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and its Center for International Security and Cooperation. Before joining Stanford, Gottemoeller was the Deputy Secretary General of NATO from 2016 to 2019, where she helped to drive forward NATO's adaptation to new security challenges in Europe and in the fight against terrorism.  Prior to NATO, she served for nearly five years as the Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security at the U.S. Department of State, advising the Secretary of State on arms control, nonproliferation and political-military affairs. 

Steven Pifer is an affiliate of the Center for International Security and Cooperation as well as a non-resident senior fellow with the Brookings Institution. He was a William J. Perry Fellow at the center from 2018-2022 and a fellow at the Robert Bosch Academy in Berlin from January-May 2021. Pifer's research focuses on nuclear arms control, Ukraine, Russia, and European security. A retired Foreign Service officer, Pifer's more than 25 years with the State Department focused on U.S. relations with the former Soviet Union and Europe, as well as arms control and security issues, and included service as the third US ambassador to Ukraine.

 All CISAC events are scheduled using the Pacific Time Zone.

Green Library, East Wing 

Kristjan Prikk
Rose Gottemoeller
Steven Pifer
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Authors
François Diaz-Maurin
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This summer, the New York City Emergency Management department released a new public service announcement on nuclear preparedness, instructing New Yorkers about what to do during a nuclear attack. The 90-second video starts with a woman nonchalantly announcing the catastrophic news: “So there’s been a nuclear attack. Don’t ask me how or why, just know that the big one has hit.” Then the PSA video advises New Yorkers on what to do in case of a nuclear attack: Get inside, stay inside, and stay tuned to media and governmental updates.

But nuclear preparedness works better if you are not in the blast radius of a nuclear attack. Otherwise, there’s no going into your house and closing your doors because the house will be gone. Now imagine there have been hundreds of those “big ones.” That’s what even a “small” nuclear war would include. If you are lucky not to be within the blast radius of one of those, it may not ruin your day, but soon enough, it will ruin your whole life.

Continue reading at thebulletin.org

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Direct radiation lasts less than a second, but its lethal level can extend over a mile in all directions from the detonation point of a modern-day nuclear weapon with an explosive yield equal to the effect of several hundred kilotons of TNT.

Authors
Steven Pifer
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Since Russia launched its most recent invasion of Ukraine in February, Moscow has threatened—sometimes subtly, other times explicitly—nuclear escalation should the war not go its way. Ukraine and the West have to take such threats seriously. But the Kremlin also needs to take their probable responses seriously and would have to weigh the substantial risks and costs of using a nuclear weapon.

Shortly after Russian forces assaulted Ukraine on Feb. 24, Vladimir Putin ordered a “special combat readiness” status for Russian nuclear forces. But it’s unclear what that means since the Pentagon has consistently said it sees no change in Russia’s nuclear posture. The alert may have amounted to little more than additional command post staffing.

Continue reading at time.com

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"The hope is that rationality would prevail, and that senior political and military leaders in Moscow, who may not be so obsessed with Ukraine, would come down on the side of caution."

Authors
Scott D. Sagan
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Vladimir Putin’s nuclear threats have been menacing and apocalyptic. In March 2018, he told an interviewer that he would not start a nuclear war, but if “aggressors” attacked Russia, “vengeance is inevitable.... We will go to heaven as martyrs. They will just drop dead.” When he illegally annexed parts of Ukraine on Sept. 21, Mr. Putin escalated the threat, announcing that if “the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will without doubt use all available means to protect Russia and our people. This is not a bluff.” And then he led the crowd in chanting, “Russia, Russia, Russia.”

President Joe Biden suggested last week that the “prospect of Armageddon” hasn’t loomed so close in 60 years. The remark set off a flurry of public speculation. Are Mr. Putin’s threats serious or mere saber rattling? Are they calculated bluffs to frighten NATO and deter intervention, or bellicose rants from an isolated and unhinged bully?

Continue reading at WSJ.com

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Putin’s menacing rhetoric has alarmed the West, but lessons learned 60 years ago in the Cuban Missile Crisis provide some reassurance

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Seminar Recording

About the Event: Before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Biden administration insisted in arms control talks with Russia that a follow-on agreement to the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) should cover all nuclear weapons and that such an agreement should focus on the nuclear warheads themselves. This would represent a significant change from previous agreements, which focused on delivery vehicles, such as missiles. The United States has been particularly interested in potential limits on nonstrategic nuclear warheads (NSNW). Such weapons have never been subject to an arms control agreement. Because Russia possesses an advantage in the number of such weapons, the US Senate has insisted that negotiators include them in a future agreement, making their inclusion necessary if such an accord is to win Senate approval and ultimately be ratified by Washington. In the wake of Russian nuclear threats in the Ukraine conflict, such demands can only be expected to grow if and when US and Russian negotiators return to the negotiating table.

Such an agreement will face major negotiating and implementation challenges—not only between Washington and Moscow, but also between Washington and NATO European allies. That is because the US side of such an agreement would primarily affect an estimated 100 US B61 gravity bombs deployed at European bases in NATO countries. Yet, these allies have not played a substantive role in US-Russian arms control negotiations since the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty was completed in the 1980s; inspections under the treaty ended in 2001.1 As a result, many of these allies and NATO officials have recognized the need to “do their homework” so they can be prepared to engage in substantive consultations with the United States during negotiation of such a treaty and to implement it once it enters into force.

To stimulate this process, four NATO allies (Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and Norway) and one NATO partner (Sweden) funded a research team led by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies and former NATO Deputy Secretary General and New START lead negotiator Rose Gottemoeller. The research focused on the negotiating, policy, legal, and technical issues that allies will likely have to address to reach such an accord. The research team also carried out a series of interviews to understand the views in NATO states on such an agreement and to gauge the constraints they could be expected to face in the process. The interviews and the primary drafting of the report occurred before Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine and the report was first presented at a conference on “Maintaining Strategic Stability amid a Detoriorating European Security Environment” in Copenhagen in May. Mr. Pomper will discuss the paper and ongoing efforts to build Allied capacity to tackle these issues. 

In addition, prior to this paper US and allied research on verification measures for NSNW had largely focused on scientific and technical tools to conduct on-site inspections. The research team developed an original and unique methodology for a data exchange employing historic stockpile data and taking advantage of past US-Russian cooperation and cryptography. This data exchange would serve as the critical backbone for other verification measures, no matter the type of warhead or the type of agreement (freeze, limitation, or reduction). As Mr Moon will explain, his technical team with support from colleagues at Stanford and the State Department Verification Fund is now preparing a proof-of-concept demonstration of this approach and then will develop the framework for a full verification protocol. 

About the Speakers: 

Miles A. Pomper is currently leading a project to build NATO capacity for addressing deterrence, arms, control and verification issues, supported by Denmark, Germany, and Sweden as well as a parallel technical project funded by the U.S. State Department.  He is the lead author of Everything Counts: Building a Control Regime for Nonstrategic Nuclear Warheads in Europe co-authored by Rose Gottemoeller, Bill Moon, and other leading experts. Miles is a Senior Fellow at the Washington, DC, office of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. He has authored or co-authored several other reports and book chapters on nonstrategic nuclear warheads, arms control, and deterrence in Europe, including Ensuring Deterrence Against Russia: The View from NATO States (2015). He is also the author or co-author of dozens of other reports and book chapters on nuclear arms control, nuclear nonproliferation, and nuclear and radiological terrorism. He is the former editor of Arms Control Today, the former lead foreign-policy reporter for the Capitol Hill publication CQ Weekly, and a former diplomat with the US Information Agency. He holds master's degrees in international affairs from Columbia University and in journalism from Northwestern University and a B.A. in history from Columbia. 

William M. Moon is currently the technical lead on a project to build NATO capacity for addressing deterrence, arms, control and verification issues, supported by Denmark, Germany, and Sweden as well as a parallel technical project funded by the U.S. State Department.  He is a co-author of Everything Counts: Building a Control Regime for Nonstrategic Nuclear Warheads in Europe co-authored by Miles Pomper, Rose Gottemoeller, and other leading experts. Bill is a Non-resident Fellow at the Stimson Center and an Independent Consultant.  He has authored a series of reports on nuclear security and the Cooperative Threat Reduction program based on his experiences leading the CTR Global Nuclear Security program for over 25 years at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.  He holds master's degrees in international affairs from Columbia University and in Resourcing National Security from the National Defense University, and a B.A. in Government and Russian Studies from Hamilton College.

 All CISAC events are scheduled using the Pacific Time Zone.

William J. Perry Conference Room

Miles Pomper
William Moon
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About the Event: A panel discussion convened in partnership with the Institute for Nonviolence and Social Justice, University of San Francisco, the Center for International Security and Cooperation, Stanford University, and the World House Project, Center for Democracy, Development and Rule of Law, Stanford University.

About the Speakers:

Scott D. Sagan is the Caroline S.G. Munro Professor of Political Science, the Mimi and Peter Haas University Fellow in Undergraduate Education, and Senior Fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation and the Freeman Spogli Institute at Stanford University. He also serves as Chairman of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Committee on International Security Studies. Before joining the Stanford faculty, Sagan was a lecturer in the Department of Government at Harvard University and served as special assistant to the director of the Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Pentagon.

Clayborne Carson, the Martin Luther King, Jr., Centennial Professor of History, emeritus, at Stanford University, has devoted his professional life to the study of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the human rights movements inspired by King, Mohandas K. Gandhi, and other visionaries. His award-winning first book, In Struggle: SNCC and the Black Awakening of the 1960s, was published in 1981 and remains the definitive study of the courageous activists and organizers who challenged the strongholds of segregation. In 1985, Mrs. Coretta Scott King chose Dr. Carson to edit and publish a definitive, multi-volume edition of her late husband’s speeches, sermons, correspondence, publications, and unpublished writings. In addition to publishing numerous other books and scholarly articles, Carson has also reached broader audiences as a senior advisor to the Eyes on the Prize series and his contributions to more than two dozen subsequent documentaries. After launching the online Liberation Curriculum for K-12 students, Carson founded Stanford's Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute in 2005 to disseminate King-related educational resources to a global audience. After retiring as the King Institute’s Director, Carson has continued his online educational efforts by establishing The World House Project to collaborate with other human rights advocates to realize King's vision of a global community in which all people can "learn somehow to live with each other in peace.”

Rose Gottemoeller is the Steven C. Házy Lecturer at Stanford University's Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and its Center for International Security and Cooperation. Before joining Stanford Gottemoeller was the Deputy Secretary General of NATO from 2016 to 2019, where she helped to drive forward NATO’s adaptation to new security challenges in Europe and in the fight against terrorism.  Prior to NATO, she served for nearly five years as the Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security at the U.S. Department of State, advising the Secretary of State on arms control, nonproliferation and political-military affairs. While Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification and Compliance in 2009 and 2010, she was the chief U.S. negotiator of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) with the Russian Federation.

David Holloway is the Raymond A. Spruance Professor of International History, a professor of political science, and an FSI senior fellow. He was co-director of CISAC from 1991 to 1997, and director of FSI from 1998 to 2003. His research focuses on the international history of nuclear weapons, on science and technology in the Soviet Union, and on the relationship between international history and international relations theory. His book Stalin and the Bomb: The Soviet Union and Atomic Energy, 1939-1956 (Yale University Press, 1994) was chosen by the New York Times Book Review as one of the 11 best books of 1994, and it won the Vucinich and Shulman prizes of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies. It has been translated into seven languages, most recently into Chinese. The Chinese translation is due to be published later in 2018. Holloway also wrote The Soviet Union and the Arms Race (1983) and co-authored The Reagan Strategic Defense Initiative: Technical, Political and Arms Control Assessment (1984). He has contributed to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Foreign Affairs, and other scholarly journals.

 All CISAC events are scheduled using the Pacific Time Zone.

Virtual

Scott Sagan Stanford Center for International Security and Cooperation
Clayborne Carson Stanford Department of History
Rose Gottemoeller Stanford Center for International Security and Cooperation
David Holloway Stanford Center for International Security and Cooperation
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Authors
Steven Pifer
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Seven and a half months after it began, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine has not gone as the Kremlin had hoped. The Ukrainian military has resisted with skill and tenacity, in recent weeks clawing back territory in the country’s south and east. As the Russian invasion falters, concern has arisen that Putin might turn to nuclear weapons.

The nuclear threat needs to be taken seriously. Russia’s conventional forces appear stymied, the country has a large nuclear arsenal, and Putin thus far seems unwilling to lose or retreat. He has, if anything, doubled down, for example, ordering a mobilization and a sham annexation of Ukrainian territory. Moreover, Putin has made a string of miscalculations in launching and executing his war on Ukraine, and his comments have observers wondering if nuclear could be next. But there are reasons to believe Moscow would not press the nuclear button. Such use would not end the Ukrainian determination to resist. It would alienate countries such as China and India that have tried to remain on the sidelines of this war. Moreover, senior Russian political and military leaders understand that introducing nuclear weapons into the conflict would constitute a step into a murky and potentially disastrous unknown.

Continue reading at the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists

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Seven and a half months after it began, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine has not gone as the Kremlin had hoped. The Ukrainian military has resisted with skill and tenacity, in recent weeks clawing back territory in the country’s south and east. As the Russian invasion falters, concern has arisen that Putin might turn to nuclear weapons.

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Seminar Recording

About the Event: In this talk, Dr. Kassenova will share highlights from her recently released book Atomic Steppe: How Kazakhstan Gave Up the Bomb. She will share the history of Soviet nuclear tests in the Kazakh steppe, their harm to the people and the environment, and the story of the public anti-nuclear movement that led to the closure of the nuclear testing site. She will also explain why Kazakhstan decided to give up its nuclear inheritance, including more than a thousand nuclear weapons, more than a hundred intercontinental ballistic missiles, tons of nuclear materials, and critical nuclear infrastructure. 

About the Speaker: Dr. Togzhan Kassenova is a Washington, DC-based senior fellow at the Center for Policy Research, SUNY-Albany and a nonresident fellow in the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. She is an expert on nuclear politics, WMD nonproliferation, and financial crime prevention. She currently works on issues related to proliferation financing controls, exploring ways to minimize access of proliferators to the global financial system. Kassenova holds a Ph.D. in Politics from the University of Leeds and is a Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist (CAMS). From 2011 to 2015 Kassenova served on the UN Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters.

 All CISAC events are scheduled using the Pacific Time Zone.

William J. Perry Conference Room

Togzhan Kassenova Center for Policy Research, SUNY-Albany
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